Government information can be very good for providing basic information on groups who use terrorist tactics. And government documents and other reports are a must if you want to understand policies in that country.
However, the United States defines and perceives terrorism from within its own best national interests. This is true of every other government providing statements or materials on terrorism.
When you work with government materials, there are two questions you can ask along the way to help evaluate them.
- First, what is this government's national interest? Countries, like people, want to say those things that help others see the world the way they do, and want to de-emphasize facts that don't support their worldviews.
- You will also want about the country's general record of openness or secrecy. How much information does it release to its citizens and to the world. This can be a very difficult question to answer, since repressive governments do not always lie and open, democratic governments do not always tell the truth. However, their general habits may guide how you evaluate what they report.